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Iosea Bibliography Resource

The Memorandum of Understanding on the Conservation and Management of Marine Turtles and their Habitats of the Indian Ocean and South-East Asia puts in place a framework through which States of the Indian Ocean and South-East Asian region, as well as other concerned States, can work together to conserve and replenish depleted marine turtle populations for which they share responsibility. This objective will be achieved through the collective implementation of an associated Conservation and Management Plan.

The Memorandum of Understanding applies to the waters and coastal States of the Indian Ocean and South-East Asia and adjacent seas, extending eastwards to the Torres Strait. For implementation purposes, the area is divided into four sub-regions: South-East Asia and Australia, Northern Indian Ocean, Northwestern Indian Ocean, and Western Indian Ocean. The species of marine turtles covered by the MoU are the Loggerhead Caretta caretta, Olive Ridley Lepidochelys olivacea, Green Chelonia mydas, Hawksbill Eretmochelys imbricata, Leatherback Dermochelys coriacea, and Flatback Natator depressus.

In the context of sustainable development, the conservation and management of marine turtles globally and within the Indian Ocean - South-East Asian region presents a formidable challenge. Many communities still utilise marine turtles for their meat and eggs, as a source of protein, and their shell for artisanal crafts. At the same time, marine turtles have both intrinsic and ecological values as important components of marine ecosystems. Threatened or endangered in many parts of the world, they are considered as flagship species on which to base interventions aimed at protecting habitats of importance to a myriad of other marine species.

Major threats to marine turtles include unsustainable exploitation, destruction of nesting and feeding habitats, and incidental mortality in fishing operations. The IOSEA MoU's Conservation and Management Plan -- containing 24 programmes and 105 specific activities -- focuses on reducing threats, conserving critical habitat, exchanging scientific data, increasing public awareness and participation, promoting regional cooperation, and seeking resources for implementation.

Various international agreements and national regulations strive to conserve and protect marine turtles from excessive exploitation. Ultimately, however, the success of these initiatives depends on effective implementation of measures by a wide range of actors -- governmental (at all levels), non-governmental (NGOs, civil society) and intergovernmental. Not surprisingly, in the face of other pressing development priorities, many countries lack the capacity and resources to undertake conservation measures for these species -- notwithstanding their socio-economic value and intrinsic worth. This makes it all the more important to offer support, assistance and encouragement to the custodians of these natural resources. The Indian Ocean -- South-East Asian Marine Turtle Memorandum of Understanding is playing its part by developing a well-coordinated network of interested stakeholders, delivering a comprehensive programme of necessary interventions, and providing an inclusive forum for regular review of implementation progress.


The Memorandum of Understanding is a specialized intergovernmental agreement concluded under the auspices of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals. With its Secretariat based in Bonn, Germany, CMS leads international efforts to conserve marine, terrestrial, and avian migratory species throughout their range. The Convention and most of its subsidiary Agreements are administered by the United Nations Environment Programme, headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya.

The Memorandum of Understanding and associated Conservation and Management Plan were developed over a series of intergovernmental negotiation sessions held in Perth, Australia (October 1999), Kuantan, Malaysia (July 2000), and Manila, Philippines (June 2001). The MoU came into effect on 1 September 2001, and the Signatory States held their first meeting in Bangkok in January 2003. A small regional secretariat was established in April 2003, supported through voluntary funding, to coordinate activities under the MoU. The IOSEA Marine Turtle MoU Secretariat was originally co-located with the UNEP Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific (UNEP/ROAP), in Bangkok, Thailand. Since January 2017, coordination takes place from the headquarters of CMS in Bonn, Germany.

The IOSEA Marine Turtle MOU is coordinated by the Secretariat of the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS). The Secretariat was established to assist communication, encourage reporting and facilitate activities between and among Signatory States, sub-regional institutions and other interested States and organizations. Its functions include:

  • organization of the Meetings of the Signatories (MOS), of the Advisory Committee (AC), of sub-regional Task Forces and initiatives, and any specific workshops requested by the Signatories
  • support to Signatories, the Marine Turtle Task Forces and the Advisory Committee
  • gathering and dissemination of national reports and other pertinent information
  • collaboration with relevant intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations
  • development and maintenance of the IOSEA Marine Turtle MOU website and other outreach and communication tools

Until 2016, the Secretariat was based in Bangkok at the UN Environment Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific (ROAP). In 2017, following the retirement of Douglas Hykle, the office was moved to the CMS headquarters in Bonn, Germany, and Heidrun Frisch-Nwakanma took on the function of Coordinator.

The Coordinator is a member of the Aquatic Species Team and reports to its Head, Melanie Virtue, and the CMS Executive Secretary, Bradnee Chambers. She also receives support as required from the CMS Adminitrative and Financial Unit, the CMS Conference Service Team and the Joint CMS + AEWA Communications, Information Management and Outreach Team.


Heidrun Frisch-Nwakanma

IOSEA Marine Turtle MOU Coordinator & CMS Aquatic Species Team  
(time dedicated to the MOU: 80%)
Bradnee Chambers

CMS Executive Secretary
Melanie Virtue

Head, CMS Aquatic Species Team


UNEP/CMS Secretariat
IOSEA Marine Turtle MOU
Heidrun Frisch-Nwakanma
UN Campus
Platz der Vereinten Nationen 1
53113 Bonn


Tel.: +49 228 815 2491
Email: iosea@un.org / heidrun.frisch@cms.int


Any vacancies for staff or consultants at the UNEP/CMS Secretariat are advertised at the UN Careers Portal. Please note that recruitment is only possible through this portal.

Calls for Tender

There are currently no calls for applications for institutional contracts.


Internship at the UNEP/CMS Secretariat

An internship at the UNEP/CMS Secretariat provides a good opportunity to gain experience in a multi-cultural and multi-disciplinary environment, as well as in the day-to-day functioning of an Multilateral Environmental Agreement (MEA) Secretariat.

The UNEP/CMS Secretariat offers interships to qualified university graduates or students, enrolled in a tertiary course of study, interested in gaining experience in the areas of:

  • Biology
  • Environmental and political sciences
  • Law
  • International studies
  • Any other area related to the work of the Secretariat

Internship - Areas of Work

Interns are supervised jointly by the professional staff of the Aquatic Species Team, supporting them with particular tasks. Some examples are:

  • Assistance with preparations and servicing CMS and MOU meetings or workshops
  • Research in preparation for reports, documents or publications
  • Assistance with outreach and education, incl. website content
  • Other support to the day-to-day operations of the Secretariat

Internship – Facts

Depending on places available, the UNEP/CMS Secretariat offers internships for a period of 3 – 6 months, beginning at any time. The Secretariat is located at the UN Campus in Bonn, Germany.

Internships are not remunerated – all expenses must be covered by the intern or a sponsoring Government or institution. Written confirmation of enrolment in an appropriate health insurance scheme and in an university must be provided in advance.

Internship – Requirements and Application Procedure

Students should:

  • Be enrolled in the final academic year of a first university degree programme (minimum Bachelor’ s level or equivalent), or be enrolled in a graduate school programme (second university degree or equivalent  or higher), or have graduated with an university degree (as defined above) and, if selected, must commence the internship within a one-year period of graduation
  • The working language of the Secretariat is English; full ability to work in English (written and spoken) is required. Knowledge of further languages spoken in the Agreement Area is an asset
  • Interns should have standard computer skills (Microsoft Office)
  • Interns need to agree with the scope of tasks before the start of the internship

Internships at the UNEP/CMS Secretariat are advertised at the UN Careers Portal. Interested candidates can also find further information about internships at the UNEP website. 

For further information contact the UNEP/CMS Secretariat at cms.secretariat@cms.int.

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